As an educator, my personal experiences initially influenced my personal attitudes and beliefs about diversity issues in my classroom. Overtime, I became immune to my colleagues who lacked diversity tolerance. I would use the strategies I learned to ensure that all students in my classroom received equitable instruction, yet I took a neutral stance on others’ lack of knowledge and tolerance. (I had not yet focused on the true meaning of equity and equality.) I never imagined the effects that this would have on my students. I quickly began to speak up about the injustices. Teachers must engage in professional learning to improve practices that promote positive outcomes for all students (Vescio,2016). The lack of knowledge may be the ultimate reason teachers sometimes struggle with the changing demographics. Through continuous learning, I have improved my teaching practices to better serve all students. I will continue to transform my practice using the knowledge gained as a result of my learning. The students’ past experiences are vital to their success (Montgomery, 2001). My teaching practice is inclusive of strategies that are specific to the needs of the students in my class, and to the school environment. I believe that the school’s environment is just as important as the instruction in the classroom. Providing appropriate information and resources to teachers, parents, and the community is essential (Watt & Norton, 2004). Misconceptions often lead to misunderstanding.
Two years ago, I received my English as a second language (ESOL) certification. I have become more aware of how a deficiency in English can negatively affect a students’ positive learning outcome (Swanson, Kong, & Petcu, 2018). My MSED specialization is in elementary math and reading. I currently teach 4th grade mathematics. The students served in ESOL are often under served and over represented in special education. (As well as our African American students.) I aspire to research schools that have used strategies that have been effective for meeting the needs of their ESOL student population. After researching the strategies, I look forward to sharing the data and implementing these strategies in my own classroom.
I have deepened my knowledge and understanding of the needs of diverse populations in a plethora of ways. During the research required during my MSED program, it was revealed that the African American and Hispanic populations are under served in my local schools as well as many schools around the country. It has been long believed that the achievement gap was only related to socioeconomic status, and not ethnicity (Alt & DiLallo, 2016). This has since been debunked by current data. The achievement gap will not close but will widen if there is not a plan in place to address the needs of the students. To continue to meet the needs of African American and Hispanic students, I will identify and implement two culturally relevant topics of study and integrate them into my instruction. I plan to share the experience and outcomes with my colleagues. Maybe this will spark the necessary conversations. Integrating topics that can reach our under served students will aid in connecting the instruction and promoting positive social change within the classroom.
Final thoughts: My purpose as an educator is to provide all students with a positive educational experience, regardless of any differences they may have. I have been exposed to content that has provided me with the strategies necessary to offer the positive outcomes among the students in my classroom, school, and community. I recognize potential biases due to my own personal experiences. I use this knowledge to provide effective instruction for my students and promote positive social change in my school. I will continue to promote positive social change. Social change is not an overnight process. It takes leadership and dedication. I will continue to advocate for my students and families through bringing awareness to the social injustices of our education system. Will you be the one to advocate for the students?
The Melanin Educator
References (Great Reads!!!!!)
Alt, M., Arizmendi, G. D., & DiLallo, J. N. (2016). The role of socioeconomic status in the narrative story retells of school-aged English language learner. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 47(4), 313-323. Retrieved from https://eds-b-ebscohost-com.ezp.waldenulibrary.org/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=2&sid=4b9ca9e2-7258-43e2-ad40-cdaf545eba0e%40pdc-v-sessmgr01
Montgomery, W. (2001). Creating Culturally Responsive, Inclusive Classrooms. Teaching Exceptional Children, 33(4), 4. Retrieved from https://eds-a-ebscohost-com.ezp.waldenulibrary.org/eds/pdfviewer /pdfviewer?vid=2&sid=4d8992d5-d9a4-4663-bce6-c5a50a378a79%40sdc-v-sessmgr01
Swanson, H.L., Kong, J., & Petcu, S. (2018). Math Difficulties and Working Memory Growth in English Language Learner Children: Does Bilingual Proficiency Play a Significant Role? Language, Speech & Hearing Services in Schools, 49(3), 379-394. Retrieved from https://eds-b-ebscohost-com.ezp.waldenulibrary.org/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=2&sid=c98d2929-ded0-4a04-8c97-19e4b5eb8f65%40sessionmgr104
Vescio, V. (2016). An equal Chance at Success: Culturally Responsive Teaching Practices Address Students’ Differing Needs. Journal of Staff Development, 37(5), 18-22 Retrieved from https://eds-a-ebscohost-com.ezp.waldenulibrary.org/e’ds/pdfviewer/ pdfviewer?vid=4&sid=75518455-cc85-43a6-837d-a37bf32b9d74%40sessionmgr4008
Watt, S., & Norton, D. (2004). Culture, ethnicity, race: what’s the difference? Pediatric Nursing, (8), 37. Retrieved from https://eds-a-ebscohost-com.ezp.waldenulibrary.org/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=2&sid=8d8a2374-eb42-4294-a10b-d743f212cac9%40sdc-v-sessmgr04